AN: Yet again, I have been afflicted by the need to write a five and one while in the middle of doing something else.
Warning: It is T for a reason people and those reasons are: mentions of abuse, Tarsus, general angst, and K/S.
The Learning Curve
The five things Jim was forced to learn about the hard way and the one thing that came easily to him.
Speech: "Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall…"
He learns to read before he learns to talk. It is strange but not all that surprising since he learns all that he knows off the data pad that is loaded with educational programs.
He is in school before he is finally proficient enough in speech to hold a conversation even if his reading and mathematical skills are almost off the charts. School is a difficult concept for him to accept although the teachers seem to love him even if the students do not.
He has been alone in one way or another for most of his life so company is not something he is accustomed to dealing with. His quiet ways and near monotonic attitude turn the other children away from him. James does not understand why the other children dislike him so. He is always on his best behavior, keeping himself out of the way and staying silent just like Ma'am has always told him to do. He never looks anyone in the eyes and makes sure all of the tasks he is assigned are finished quickly and efficiently.
He finally understands after a few years that the other children just do not understand a submissive, subservient attitude. The adults choose to believe that he is simply a young child with excellent manners. They look but will not see.
It is a Friday, the children at school are busy making cards, and drawing pictures, he really does not understand the concept emotionally though he knows the history behind the holiday. He goes home that afternoon and makes a mistake.
He calls Ma'am mother.
She flies into a rage of epic proportions, filled with such intensity that it is almost awe-inspiring. There is a heavy picture frame that gashes open the side of his head and for a moment, all he can see through the blood is the brightly smiling blonde man that he is not allowed to mention. Then his world is immersed in sheer pain.
It is Frank not father, never father, not for him that stops her. He pulls the heavy antiquated wrench from her hands and reminds her that if they cannot explain his wounds the police could get involved. She finally calms and agrees.
There is a trip to the hospital and a story about some form of childish recklessness that is accepted and then placed to the side.
The fingers on that hand will never work right again. No matter how advanced medicine was, it could not heal all of the nerve damage and the bones with his already compromised immune system.
He vows to never speak in front of Ma'am again. It is too bad that he never has the chance to find out if he can keep his word.
Death: "I looked and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death."
He has known since he was a small child that he was a murderer although as much as he searched his mind he could never remember taking a life.
He no longer has to search to find those memories; the ones he has made on this planet were now fresh in his mind.
The first time he had not set out to take a life but the circumstances demanded it. They had been hiding, trying desperately to keep silent and still but the older male who was hiding with them would not leave, would not stop trying to touch Kevin and the others.
Would not be quiet.
He had apologized briefly in his mind, not daring to utter the words aloud for fear of them being heard. The knife had pierced deep, the blade sharp and true as it severed the man's vocal chords and splattered a crimson arc of blood across the ground.
James stared at the sight almost fascinated. It was the first time he had actually seen death and he realized as he gazed around at the faces surrounding him; it would not be the last.
He was more than correct.
Time passed as it was want to do and each day James could see death creeping closer and closer to his children and himself. He himself was not afraid of it but he knew that he could not allow it to take any of his children if he could prevent it.
So he did.
Instead, he sent many others ahead of them. It was not hard really. A confiscated rifle here, a phaser on overload there, and he was able to gather enough to feed the others and occasionally himself.
It ended though, as all things must, and death came to collect its due. One by one he watched them fall, watched them bleed out in the snow as the woman who held his drugged form stroked his hair and watched his children burn.
"Such a pretty little skeleton, with such pretty little eyes." She cooed. "You're death in a beautiful little package."
He believed her. He had to bring death with him because it was constantly taking others in his place. Help arrived but it was only in time to save him and a few of his children, the one responsible fled just in time. The charred body that was found later away from the burning grounds was Kodos they told him but he refused to believe it.
Imitation: "Men often applaud an imitation, and hiss the real thing."
He learns that for him to survive his own face is not acceptable. He must show the world what they expect to see and what they wish to see.
James is a quick study.
He watches people day and night during his stay in the recovery facility. He watches the way they interact and the emotions that they show on their faces. He watches everything about them.
He knows emotions, he has them the same as any other human. There are just certain ones that he is unsure of and certain ones that he knows very well. He uses his people watching to better understand those emotions and to help him to figure out what he needs to present to the world in order for them to be fooled.
Mimicry is a complicated art form.
By the time he is released he has cultivated an entire personality. A daredevil genius who is not afraid to take risks is what he presents to the outside world while in reality he is much more of the silent wait and watch type.
His life in now officially a lie.
Friendship: "Tell me what company thou keepest, and I'll tell thee what thou art."
He has never really had a friend before, just those who would abuse him and those he had been willing to be abused for. He was a protector and not a friend to the other children of Tarsus. Yet when he sees the scruffy older man, arguing with the officer, something within him seemed to sigh and whisper, "There you are…you are long overdue…"
It confuses him and even later, when he washes the stomach acid off his shoes and helps the man stagger to the office he keeps his distance.
He is surprised when the man reappears outside of his dorm room about a week later, a slightly sheepish look in his eyes beneath the surly exterior.
Things do not go easy for them but they find they cannot stay away from each other. There is something there that draws them together no matter what they do. It takes months of McCoy's coaxing and James hiding behind the mask he had perfected years ago before the truth comes out.
McCoy cries and James is stony in a way that is at odds with his normal personality as they both take a moment for things to sink in. The next morning they are Bones and Jim because the pull they each felt was beyond anything they had ever known and for the first time in Jim's life he feels as if he has found a friend.
Two years later, he is almost ready to admit that the other man is more than his friend and is instead almost his brother.
Loneliness: "It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise. This is as true of men as of dogs."
He has never really been lonely before, never tasted its bitter flavor in his throat. He had always been content with his own company in the past and recently he had cultivated a friendship with Bones.
So it is with tears in his eyes and an unfamiliar sob in his throat that he stares at the old Vulcan who is now undeniably Spock.
There was such emotion in the other male's mind, such a violent swirl of rage and pain and loss that it was almost overwhelming. What stood out the most though was what he learned was loneliness. It stemmed from a place deeper than the lose of his planet. Deeper if it was possible that the wound ripped by the death of so many of his own race.
It is as if the other half of the old Vulcan's soul was missing and in the depths of his mind Jim can hear the harsh and pained cry of "t'hy'la" that echoed across the cold space. There is such love for that other half, such devotion, that the lose of it is almost sickening.
Though it is cruel of him given the circumstances he cannot help but wonder what it would be like to be the focus of such a powerful force.
Love: "For, you see, each day I love you more. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow."
It was like breathing. Natural and necessary to life, one of those things that you do not need to think about to actually do.
It did not help that Spock was like air. Mysterious and yet simple, he was everywhere that Jim was, in everything that he did.
Things happened slowly but Jim was without his usual mistrust for the situation. There was something that prevented him from looking at Spock like a stranger, something that kept him from maintaining his distance.
It was as if there was something there calling to him, something just beyond on his reach that he had touched before but had been forced to release. He wanted it back and somehow he knew that Spock could give it to him.
He touches the Vulcan frequently, unable to help himself despite his knowledge of the personal preferences of the entire species. Spock does nothing to stop him and Jim takes that as acceptance.
Things are different with Spock. He is more the person he has always been when he is around the male and less the mask that he has long been forced to wear.
They seem to dance around each other in a way he has never experienced, their every move seems coordinated and yet natural. The others notice and it is not long before Jim is being pulled into sickbay and Bones is asking him, "Exactly how fucking long were you planning to wait before you told me you were in love with the hobgoblin?"
Jim is silent before he confesses quietly to Bones that he does not even know what love is so how could he tell Bones he loved Spock?
Bones sits him down and talks to him about love, describes devotion and weightlessness. About how you would do anything to keep that person with you, anything to save them if they needed you. How when they are in the room everything else seems to drift off until all you can focus on is them.
Jim can tell the conversation is hard on Bones so he ends it quickly. He has no desire for Bones to start thinking about his ex-wife again, their clusterfuck of a divorce, or how much she had fucked him over in the end.
When he is alone though he realizes to himself that he understood exactly what Bones had been trying to describe.
He begins to act differently after that, begins behaving in a way that is a subtle mix between his real personality and his mimicry of the human race and their expectations. He wants to show Spock his intentions, to show him the gravity of the situation. He desperately wants Spock to understand yet he is not sure how to go about the situation. His dilemma causes him to become distant from his First Officer for the first time.
His altered behavior does not go unnoticed apparently since after only a few weeks Spock is at his door well after shift end and asking to be allowed inside. The Vulcan wastes no time and set about outlining Jim's "modified behavior" and practically demanding an explanation.
He is unable to explain. He wants to tell Spock the truth, to say the words that he had come to realized lived within his heart and yet he could not. He can almost see the hurt in the upsweep of Spock's brows and the clenching of his fists. He leaves without another word and all Jim can do is slide down his wall and breath deeply to hold back his own anguish.
Finally, he breaks down and calls Selek in the hope that the other Spock would be able to assist him. It takes him a while but he manages to get the story out because even if it is a Spock from another universe it is still Spock and he is comfortable with him.
In those moments he learns about that word that had begun to haunt him ever since their first meeting. He learns of its history and origins, learns of its meaning.
Finally, he has an explanation behind the ripping loneliness in the older male's mind, the staggering amounts of devotion and love that he had seen.
Selek teaches him other words that night as well. Words whose meaning would be understood, words that could never be mistaken. He thanks the Vulcan and pretends to not have seen the crushing void in the others eyes during their conversation.
It is a week before he can manage to get Spock alone with him in his quarters and with a single command, the cabin is sealed with his override code.
He is calm when he approaches the other, his hands are steady and sure when they reach upward and thanks to practice easily find the psi-points of the Vulcan's face. For once the shock and confusion is easily read on Spock's face. It only becomes more pronounced when Jim begins to speak.
"Parted from me and never parted…" His voice was whisper soft.
"Jim…" Spock's voice was unsteady and low for once.
"Never and always touching and touched…."
A burning hand was raised then and fitted delicately against his own psi-points. He could feel the hum of the others thoughts and emotions seemingly barely restrained by the skin of his fingertips. Their eyes met, held, and just as Bones had said before all else seemed to fade away.
"I await thee." He finished it as Selek had instructed him to and before Spock could speak another word, Jim rose onto his toes and whispered one final thing into his ear.
Spock actually gasped and then in a swirl of colors and sounds, the Vulcan initiated the meld and they were one.
Jim marveled at the beauty of Spock's mind. Memories and thoughts poured over him like rain and he tried his best to retain as much of it as he could, anything to have more of Spock within him.
He could feel the same thing happening with his own memories and while he was frightened by Spock's reaction, he was calm. It was as the exchange was taking place that he found it.
The same devotion and love that he had once felt in the mind of the older Spock in a cold cave was within the younger. It was vibrant and fresh but no less passionate or potent. Finally he had found it and he never intended to let it go again.
Then across the echoes of Spock's mind, he hears it whispered.
It was Spock's voice, his essence saying it this time and there was such joy behind it, such raw emotion that Jim knew he would never be cold inside again.
There are some things, which once touched can never be forgotten, and love such as this is one of them.
AN: Admittedly, not my best work but I still needed it out of my head. Thank you for your time and remember to make a request if you have any good five and one ideas I can possibly use.